Comic Review: Empowered TPB Vol 1, by Adam Warren

Empowered

Writer(s): Adam Warren

Astist(s): Adam Warren

US Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

THE PLOT

Follow the misadventures of this superheroine who is the latest member of the super group named “Superhomeys”, and they hang out at the “Homeycrib”. This hero has a skintight suit that makes her impervious to damage, but also malfunctions at the worst times, and is torn to shreads. The book is considered American Manga style, but even if you pick it for the cheesecake, there is a lot to read and laugh about in here.

The Review:

I had the pleasure of reading small episodes of Empowered here and there, and what amazed me is that what I started eyeing for the cheesecake, I wound up buying for the dialog.

The author, Adam Warren, has admitted in many interviews that the whole concept came to him when he was commissioned to do some “cheesecake” art with “S&M” connotations, and what is a fertile mind to do but to make it an entertaining and smart work of art, full of subplots, subtexts and character personalities?

There lies the genius of Adam. You may came in for the sweeks but usually you stay for the meat.

The first volume of the Trade Paperback, is a collection of 4 page vignettes that get the characters off the ground. Adam Warren stars to flesh out our heroin, and the characters that surround her, and we are witnessing the birth of something interesting and smart. If you are into Manga style art, then you are in your element. The minimalist treatment that Bryan Lee O’Malley gave on his Scott Pilgrimm gets surpassed greatly here, both in style and technique by Adam Warren, giving American Manga a new star to put in the front burner representing our branch of style, and I am grateful for that.

Now these characters all carry with them a very endearing trait: They effortlessly oscilate between being parodies or caricatures to being full-fleshed human beings you know and meet everyday, with the same issiues and hang-ups that some of your friends have, the same insecurities and the same over-compensations. You will turn page after page and chuckle, and think to yourself  “I know who he reminds me of! So and so…”

That is, if you are of a certain age, or remember your youthful years. I happen to be acquainted with too many adults who have short term memory about how inadequate they were in their 20’s and early 30’s and only remember after the time they got married or had the first kid, and everything else never happened or doesn’t exits. This comic is not for them.

And by the same token, this comic is not for kids, nor for very young adults. Talk about narrowing down your own demographics, Warren!

This is the type of book that if you are a vigilant parent and find it in the comic collection of your 10 year old… you should have a talk with him/her after you have read it yourself.

Just to be on the safe side. I know too many people who immediately equate Manga style with cute Saturday morning cartoons, much to the artists chagrin.

The humor in these books is subtle, but I found myself chuckling out loud a couple of times, even saying “Oh no!! He didn’t go there!!” a few more times on top of that.

But the beauty in this Trade Paperback is to see the characters grow and evolve. You even get to notice a growth on the art-style of Adam Warren after you turn page after page. I bought one volume and got so involved with the dialogs and the characters that run back the next day to pick up the second volume because I noticed there was only one left on the shelf. Now, the improvements in art are even more noticeable when you span across 3 volumes. Volume by volume Adam Warren was turning more detailed oriented and giving more finishing and details to his work, which was already pretty good even from the get-go.

The episodic nature of the narrative in the first volume keeps things light and at quick pace, but by the end of the first volume, if you like the dialog and the bantering, you will find yourself longing for more, and fortunetly Adam Warren seemed tuned to the readers sensitivity and give content in spades, with meatier (AH! Non-intended Pun!) stories and larger narratives.

And although some people may want to characterize this comic as a parody to justify its T&A, I can’t subscribe to that.

I found this to be a T&A comic, unapologetically so, soft-core yes, but with incredibly smart writing, that pokes fun at superheroes conventions, and brings something new to the table: Selfawareness.

The characters here try not to take themselves very seriously to start with. They are self-deprecating when they need to be, and they display this unwavering inclination to goof off at every turn and corner they can, just like your friends would want to when they get together with you on a Saturday night. This is characters form a young cast of sometimes deep, sometimes over-dramatic, sometimes sophomoric guys and gals who place strong emphasis on the “young” part. As such, Adam Warren not only manages to make them interesting, but he then also adds a lot of subtext and depth to the plot. In the first Volume of the TPB the story where Thugboy talks about Empowered dichotomy and her swings was particularly hilarious and amazingly well written. As a good Geek, Adam Warren displays his full array of varied knowledge mixing quantum physics with philosophy with human psychology in a mixture that gets supported splendidly by the art, an art style easy on the eyes, attractive, fast but effective just like the characters themselves.

Like I said before, you may come in to this book for the curves and the Cheesecake, but you are likely to stay for the dialog and the smart and funny scripts.

So, on my Critic’s rating, Empowered by Adam Warren TPB Vol 1 gets

7 STARS

~ by Gerald Dean on September 21, 2011.

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